H is for Horse

History was written on the backs of horses. Only dogs have shared more of our successes, our failures, our triumphs and our humiliations. I can think of no other animal which has so profoundly impacted our development as a species, and our changing cultural history. Horses & Ponies are nearly as essential to what makes us human as our primate ancestors.

Being a city girl, my interactions with horses have been very rare treats, but I’ve always held a love for them. Riding, especially, whenever I can get the opportunity is a joy, but any chance to see a horse in person has always been an awe inspiring event. There’s something about horses–the look of their eyes especially, that speaks to me. Maybe it comes from the number of times I read Black Beauty when I was a child.

Over here in Kyoto, the May equestrian trails are something I look forward to every year. Yabusame in particular is an event I don’t like to miss. It is archery on horseback, a statement which fails to live up to how awesome the sport actually is. It’s shooting three arrows in succession at wooden boards 2 square feet across, while galloping at full speed down a track, in traditional costume. That sentence still doesn’t appreciate how badass yabusame is. You really have to see it for yourself.

Horse Breeds of the World are many and varied, and naturally bred for different purposes and climates. This vast diversity in selection makes it a joy of learning when I’m filling in world details of whatever story I’m writing at the moment. Picking the right horse for the right region, or people or individual is as fun as creating a whole new character herself.


45 thoughts on “H is for Horse

  1. Lovely post. I hadn’t thought that horses have been and are as close to humans as dogs. I love them, but I’m also terrified. I’ve never ridden one in my life. It’s probably too late now.

  2. I love books like that. Horses, birds, dinosaurs, dogs, whatever. They may be guides, but I find them fascinating.

    I’m also doing the A to Z Challenge.

  3. MMMMM what a great post! I enjoy their beauty and majesty. I recently went horseback riding in Jamaica. The trail went through the jungle and the ocean. It was beautiful. I seem to look at them differently though. I feel like these beautiful animals aren’t always well cared for. The one horse I rode was a bag of bones. I tried not to cry…it didn’t work. I understood that the people on this farm were just trying to survive. I felt that these horses were being prostituted 😦 the ride was bittersweet. On the other hand I admire them for their strength and beauty and all that they have done for our society. I think I’ll go back to watching and keeping my feet on the ground 🙂 have a great day

    • Yeah, unfortunately horses, like a lot of other work/companion animals are prone to being neglected because of the amount of care and money they require. It’s terrible, I admit. In BC a couple years ago, three or four horses were abandoned in the woods in the middle of winter. They were found by a hiker trapped in a six foot snow drift. He had to dig them out and coax them back to his home. They were rescued, fortunately. A lot of others aren’t.

  4. The last time I saw a horse was for graduate school. It was an all day exercise where we had to work with a horse. I think when I first approached the horse I was talking out loud to him – probably to ease my anxiety – and made everyone laugh in the process.

  5. As a mother of a girl who rode competitively, I am well acquainted with all sorts of horses. They are very social and also can be rather delicate souls. Wish I hadn’t developed a horrible allergy to their dander!

    • Oh no! That would be horrible for a horse lover. 😦 I’ve never done competitive riding. Just trail riding and training in the ring. Watching horses move though, is a glorious thing. 🙂

  6. History being generally written from the side of the victor, dare we say that history is written from the side of the winning horse?
    Great post, informative, interesting and one that makes you think.
    A horse lived here when the ex was here, a lovely beast, very gentle despite his size, I was very sad when he left (although not at all when she did).

    • Glad you liked it. I was worried about this one. I think I was operating on half a brain when I wrote it. 😛 Living near a horse would be amazing. I probably wouldn’t get anything done.

    • I’ve taken riding lessons briefly, and fortunately all the horses that were assigned to me were gentle, and knew what they were doing, if I didn’t. It was a great experience.

  7. Nope, wrong all wrong. They are walking dog food. Horrible bitty spitty things. They are, to quote vet I saw on TV ‘dangerous at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle’. Like Donna above I was cajoled by my daughter to go riding in the Caribbean – St Lucia in our case. But there the similarity ended. I said ‘utter novice’. The stable man sniggered and brought out this complete beast. ‘What’s his name’ I asked, wondering which of the Four Horsemen wasn’t riding that day. ‘Macho’ said the groom. When the guy leading said, ‘Those who want to can canter,’ I wasn’t involved in the decision – we leapt ahead, impressing my daughter and terrifying the willies out of me. *shudders*

    • Yabusame is amazing! I watch it every year. It’s probably the most difficult sport I’ve ever seen and when it gets really fancy, the participants do it wearing costumes from over 1000 years ago!

  8. I think dogs actually win in the “most important animal to humans as a species” category. It was dogs that first allowed man to sleep through the night.

    • As far as advancement of civilization, horses had been work animals, transportation vehicles and war machines since we’ve had need of those things.

      Not arguing though, that dogs have also played an important part in human history.

  9. Hi there – When I was a kid, I wanted a horse. Of course, there was the tiny problem of where would we put him and how to take care of him. I think they’re beautiful animals. BTW, I’m dropping in from a shout out to your blog on Rosie Amber’s blog RosieAmber.wordpress.com.

  10. I watched a documentary about Yabusame a while ago. I was impressed by the skill and beauty of it. I have a deep respect for horses and love to watch them. But I must admit I get nervous when standing beside these huge creatures.

  11. Horses! Also, archery! Yes! I love archery, though it is a difficult sport to engage in in a fairly densely populated suburb like the one I currently live in. Sigh… ah well!

  12. I find riding horses to be rather awkward, but I don’t have a lot of practice. If I tried to shoot an arrow on horseback, I’d probably get it in my foot! I loved the book The Black Stallion when I was younger. I think I like the idea of horses more than the reality. 🙂

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